10 Easy Ways to Save On Christmas Presents Now!

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10 Ways to Save On Christmas Presents Now

It’s easy to spend more than you can afford on Christmas gifts, especially if you wait too long. Here are 10 Easy Ways to Save On Christmas Presents Now!

10 Ways to Save On Christmas Presents Now!

Silver Bells, Silver Bells, It’s Christmas Time In the City… Already?

The temperature is barely under 90 degrees and the stores are already bringing out the Christmas stuff. I know it’s early to be talking about Christmas, but so many of us are going to start being tempted to buy unnecessarily. That’s why I thought I would give you early bird shoppers some tips on giving and buying gifts. For those of you who like to wait until Christmas Eve, these suggestions might be useful to you too. You might even be inspired to do some shopping on Dec. 23 instead of waiting to do all of it on the 24th. Ha! Ha!

  1. Make a list of everyone you need to buy for.
  2. Now… cut that list in half. See steps 3 and 4.
  3. Get your emotions under control. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but you need to separate your emotions and your money. Especially at Christmas time when emotions seem to be exceptionally high. Some people are happy and “feeling the love” so they shop. Others are depressed so they shop. Some people are lonely so they shop. Some people are so excited that their family is going to be with them so they shop.
  1. Identify reasons not to buy:

    Don’t buy gifts to try to make people like you more. If they don’t like you unless you buy them gifts, you really don’t want them for friends.

    Don’t buy gifts to impress people. The types of people who are impressed with the amount of money you spend on a gift are not worth impressing. Besides, they will quickly forget the gift and if you’re a typical Christmas shopper, you will be paying for it long after they have forgotten.

    Don’t buy gifts for every Tom, Dick and Harry that you know. Just because “they” say you are supposed to give a gift to the mailman or the trash man doesn’t mean you should. I had a trash man one time that was awful. He was lazy, slothful and down right rude. I felt no obligation whatsoever to give him a gift. But another time, I had the nicest trash man who went above and beyond the call of duty. He got a huge plate of gingerbread men from me.

    Don’t buy someone a gift out of pride. Stop being so prideful. Don’t worry about what people might think. Don’t put your name in the gift exchange at work if you can’t afford to participate. You may even be helping someone else without realizing it. There might be someone at work who is even more financially strapped than you are, but doesn’t have the courage to say something. By tactfully indicating that you can’t participate, you might help that person to back out also.

    If you can’t bring yourself to say “I can’t afford a gift,” then maybe you could suggest that instead of exchanging gifts with each other you could pool the money and buy something for Toys for Tots or some other charity. If you normally spend $10 each on gifts, you might suggest that everyone give $5 to the charity. That way you can save a little but you will still be able to get one nice large present for someone who could really use it, instead of a doorstop for someone who is just being nice.

  2. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed to have to tell family members or friends that you can’t afford gifts or gifts that are quite as expensive as you have bought in the past. For most people it isn’t as big a deal as you think. If you say to most moms, dads, brothers, sisters or friends, “I just don’t have the money” or “we are trying to get our finances under control”, they usually won’t say, “we don’t love you anymore.” If that is their reaction, is that really a relationship worth having? In most cases they will probably be very supportive and admire you even more for being honest and not pretending to be someone who you really aren’t.

  1. It really is the thought that counts. Gifts don’t have to be terribly expensive to mean something to the receiver. Remember, too, that the price of a gift is not the scale by which to measure your love for that person. Love is priceless. Stop trying to buy love with expensive gifts.

    My grandmother-in-law once gave me a set of pillow cases that she had made as a young bride. There was no cost involved but it is one of my most treasured gifts. There are a lot of gifts that don’t cost anything but mean so much. Set aside some time to think about what might be meaningful to those you love. My oldest grandson was at the age where it is soooooo gross to get a hug from anyone. On my birthday this year he said “Nan, for a present you can hug me all you want and whenever want for the whole year.” Is that not the best gift a grandma could get?

  2. Now that you have your list under control, figure out how much you can afford to spend. Don’t let the number of credit cards you haven’t yet maxed out or the fact that a bank might be more than happy to let you take a second (or third) mortgage on the house fool you into getting seriously in debt. How much you can reasonably afford? Take that number and make it your budget to buy for all the people you have on your list. This will give you a general idea of what you have to spend on each person. It doesn’t have to be set in stone and you can adjust it more the closer you get to Christmas. (By the way, if you manage not to spend it all, don’t go overboard looking for ways to spend more. Count it a blessing.)
  3. Next to each person’s name, write the amount you have to spend on them, their sizes, and gift ideas. As you buy them a gift write it down and how much it costs to help you stay on track.
  4. Even though I was teasing the Christmas Eve shoppers, there is something valuable in waiting until you get closer to Christmas to do your shopping. Stores have more sales closer to that time. If I see something that I know someone would like and buy it now, chances are good that in two weeks I will find something they like even more for a better price, so I like to wait to buy until I have seen everything out there.
  5. My last tip is to relax and enjoy Christmas. There are so many extreme opinions about Christmas now. There are those who think of Christmas only in the commercial sense and there are others who go the other direction and feel there should be no gift giving or other traditions at all for fear they will lose the whole meaning of Christmas.

Everyone has his or her own convictions about Christmas and gift giving. Mine is that I love Christmas so very much and would love to celebrate it all year long.

In the Bible, in Esther chapter 9, the Jews had just been saved by God from their enemies. They were told for two days that they should have a time of feasting and joy. Is that like Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? (Our family certainly gets into the feasting part and there is nothing more joyous than our children on Christmas Day). They were also told to give presents to each other. This shows us that, if we give with the right motive and without going overboard, there’s nothing wrong with gift giving.

In verse 22, it goes on to say to give gifts of food (I wonder how many plates of goodies the average person receives the week before Christmas.) and gifts to the poor (I don’t think we can deny the outpouring of gifts for those in need at Christmas either.) Then in verse 30, it says that Mordecai sent letters of goodwill and assurances. (Is that like Christmas cards?) Did you notice that the letters were of goodwill and assurances and not about how wonderful your own family is and all the magnificent things they accomplished this past year?

This story says that this should be celebrated every year because this was a time when God gave them relief from their enemies, turned their sorrow into joy and transformed their mourning into a time of celebration.

Isn’t that what God did for us at Christmas? He sent his Son to save us and give us relief from our enemy, to turn our sorrow into joy and our mourning into a time of celebration. If the Jews were to celebrate their deliverance from human enemies, how much more should we celebrate our deliverance from spiritual enemies?

I have reason to celebrate: To share all the blessings God has given me with others and isn’t Christ’s birthday the perfect time to do it?


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  1. says

    here is a gift that lets two people give the gift and it doesn’t cost much at all.
    ex. you see a pattern for a sweater your niece would love but you don’t knit. Aunt Zoie knits but is on a really small pension so she doesn’t participate much at gift giving things. How about talking to Aunt Zoie and see if she could knit the sweater if you buy the wool and pattern. She gets to participate without feeling like she shouldn’t and you get to give your niece a beautiful sweater from both of you.

    Another idea is for a shut in for what ever reason. Give them a card at Christmas or birthday saying you want to give a gift to last all year. Tell them little surprizes will be showing up at their door when they least expect them.
    Then some miserable day pack up a lunch give them a call and ask if they are busy if they say no say “you will be” hang up and show up at their door with lunch and a book or movie you can watch together.
    Another visit could be a couple hours out shopping or just a drive so they can get out of the house.
    The gift that lasts all year.
    Help someone you know with a craft they do but have difficulty with one of the steps. a quilter who can still sew but can’t manage the cutting of the fabric. make a day to go and cut the material. She gets to sew later and a day to chat with someone. All that takes is a bit of your time.
    For young children those talking books were all the rage for a while so I made my own. I would take a book and read it into the computer to make a cd of it. they played them at bedtime and all year got a grandma read bedtime story. I would add comments and laugh when the book was funny and it was almost like I was there for them when they listened to me reading.
    Just a few ideas some I have used and some I stole from listening to people when I worked in the nursing home.

    • Penny says

      My single brother is difficult to buy for and I’m by no means rich. I hit Dollar General or some such place and buy him essentials like dish soap, toothpaste, laundry detergent, tp, etc and he said it is his favorite gift each year!
      I can jams and salsa, etc throughout the year and also make home made soap so those are also great go to gifts for me!!

  2. Tori says

    What a fantastic article! We are paring down for Christmas this year. Partly because finances are tight; partly because we can bless our kids with a joyous holiday season in ways besides throwing the latest and greatest toys under the tree. Things like: baking together, decorating together, reading the Scriptures together…notice a trend? lol Kids appreciate doing things with their family more than any toy in the store.

    God bless you, and keep up the great work!

  3. Patt Butti says

    Great article. How about requesting ideas for home made gifts or ideas of that sort so we all can stimulate our creative juices.

    I am making home made vanilla. Half way into this I discovered this is not an inexpensive gift. BUT it is a great one.

    My daughter is writing quotations on index cards with a magnetic clip to put them on the refrigerator. She is also writing a cook book of all the families favorite recipes. (I made a book years ago with the recipes family members brought to holiday functions). I have also made updates of all the families new addresses and phones. On the back logged by months were all the birthdays and anniversaries. I printed this on bright paper and laminated it. They LOVED that one. I bought spices for grandsons setting up their own kitchens and heating pads and first aid supplies for same.

    • says

      Patti we will feature a bunch of gift ideas in the next couple of months. We are still moving hundreds (actually we have 1600 left) of articles and tips from the old web site and when we get that done you will be able to look up Christmas, Easter or any other subject any time of the year.

      Just a reminder for those who can’t wait we do have a huge section in Dining on a Dime which has some great Mixes to make and another large section on gift baskets with lots of different ideas for gift baskets.

  4. says

    About 12 years ago, I gave up giving out Christmas and Birthday gifts. These 2 occasions and celebrations are meant to be special, but the commercialism that has invaded their purpose has distorted them. My children are now 23 and 21 now, but have told me that my decision was one of the best in their lives. Gifts should be given from the heart, not just because a certain day happens to roll around on the calendar.
    I saved all the money from not spending on gifts, and even though I never made a lot of money while raising my children we went on spectacular vacations EVERY year! The Bahamas twice, Washington DC, Gatlinburg TN, New Orleans, Chincateague VA and much more. We created memories of a lifetime that we still laugh about and reflect on.
    Bigger than all of this, I have raised 2 incredible people that have a great perspective on the material things of this world – most things are a trap and not necessary. Better to make a memory and share a special moment with someone than to waste time and money on a meaningless trinket!

  5. Carol says

    I knit and crochet. Some years, my gifts have included doilies, hats, scarves, and mittens. Last year, I gave my nephew’s girlfriend (whom I love) a knitted washcloth and a bar of nice soap (from the dollar store!) She loves it, and has asked for another cloth! It cost me less than two dollars for the cotton, and only about an hour to make. One of my sisters asks for handknit socks each year. The best response ever, though, was from my niece, then six years old. I had knitted a scarf, hat and mittens for her. She tore the paper off, as children that age do, and exclaimed, “Thanks! That’s just what I’ve been wanting!” I knit a sweater for her that spring, having been given a large box of yarn, and used mismatched buttons from my nan’s button tin, since I couldn’t find any to match the soft apricot of the yarn, and she wore it till it truly wouldn’t fit anymore. It cost me nothing but time. It’s now put away until she has a daughter to wear it.Sometimes we lose track of the fact that the best gifts can cost the least. I have ery little money, being on a disability pension, but my hands are skilled and I have plenty of time.

  6. Donna B. says

    I’ve been cutting down a little each year, and NO ONE NOTICED!. Making it more about the holy day, church, good food and family has made all the difference.! I shop all year for special, well thought out gifts, and the planning really does work. I even plan down to the items I put in gift baskets — this has saved me a great deal of money. I also make sure I’m finished shopping by the first week in December. Then the rest of the month is spent on baking, wrapping, etc. Takes the presssure off me and makes the holiday so much more pleasant.

    I do a quick little no frills spreadsheet with the person’s name, what I have, what I need, and cost. This way I track all that I spend for the season, including grave blankets for the cemetery and any other incidentals.

    Establishing family traditions will long be remembered rather than the latest gadget —

  7. says

    Thank you for the wonderful newsletter. I enjoy receiving the information you send out each week and have purchased your books for myself and others. I have used the features within your website to help figure out ways to get out of debt and watched the videos to make crafts, but today’s message was so special to me.
    While I have studied the book of Esther, you have asked me to take another look at the celebration that followed, which I usually don’t dwell on. The amazing part to me was always how God used the people. We can be willing participants like Mordecai and Esther or just part of the story. God is certainly using you and your website; thank you for heeding His call and sharing His Gospel message about Christ while educating us in money matters. Thank you and God bless you and your family and its ministry.

  8. Shannon says

    I really appreciated your comments on gift giving. Our extended family recently had to reevaluate gift giving. With fourteen grandchildren, my in-laws realized that giving gifts to both their grandkids and children would be a bank-breaking task. With that in mind, we brainstormed ideas, since we all like getting gifts, and came up with a solution that has worked wonderfully for four years now. After all the children open their presents the adults get together and do a “white elephant” type DVD exchange. We pull out a DVD from our personal collections, wrap them, and bring them to the party. The one steadfast rule is that you can’t go out and buy a new DVD. We do have a couple dud DVD’s that seem to reappear each year, but that is part of the fun. We find this a great way to give “gifts” without spending any extra money and have a LOT of fun doing it!

  9. susan says

    You all are so right about the gift giving,It seems its all about the money and nothing else. My family has been getting together and spending very little on presents for years. We all pitch in and have a great big family dinner and the little kids get small gifts( dollar tree) that santa left at grandma’s house! My daughter and her husband do the “santa” at their house and they do not go into debt for it. They buy thru out the year and put back for “santa” to bring. I taught my daughter this years ago and she says that advise was the best present she ever got!

  10. Benecia says

    What a great Christmas devotional (Esther 9)! I’ll be sharing this, and your money saving tips, with my family! Thank you.

  11. Marilyn says

    I have daughter in her early thirties. I wanted to fix her a stocking this year. I have been saving all the appropriate free samples I have been getting through the year. I will get her something else, but this was just to remind her of times when she was small and had a stocking.

  12. Nicole says

    I love your potpourri recipe. I’ve used it for several years. My mother and sister are allergic to “fragrances” – Read chemical soup that the manufacture doesn’t have to list. Mom gets migraines and sister has asthma attacks. I wanted my house to smell good though and this is perfect. I found a small potpourri burner (tea light on bottom and fill top with potpourri and water). Lasts for weeks! I gave it for Christmas gifts in canning jars. I left them dry so they could use it when they wanted to. LOVE IT! THANK YOU!

  13. Bea says

    This article is wonderful, and I really like the info about Esther from the Bible. How original to match it with Christmas. I like it very much.

  14. Gayle Leubecker says

    Love your tips for a less stressful Christmas. I have one additional suggestion that may help those who don’t warm up to the idea of shopping early. PLAN early. Even if you don’t go buy an item, keep your eyes and ears open throughout the year for gift ideas for family and friends. Then – here’s the key – WRITE DOWN YOUR IDEAS! Start a dedicated list somewhere handy – like the back iside cover of your calendar or planner, and write ideas down as they occur to you. OR use the notepad feature on your cell phone if have one. Even jotting more than one idea down per person is helpful when those sale ads come out and you are wondering which bargain goes with which loved one. Jsut a thought!

  15. birthrightrose says

    A friend told me she does the following, and I’m adopting the practice this year. Four gifts: A Want, A Need, A Wear, A Read.
    I just got a book (The Read)from the library sale for my husband, and the Scholastic flier from school will take care of the kids well, and I’ll renew a magazine subscription for myself!

  16. Nan says

    Isn’t it nice that an old testament bible story that is so much a part of being Jewish and important to Judaism can be brought into this forum of people looking for ways to save money, save our environment and sharing spirituality, whether it be Christian, Jewish or other faith. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful story of my Jewish history and relating it to your readership of many faiths and viewpoints! As the kids say, “PROPS TO YOU”!!!!

  17. says

    I don’t believe I have ever seen the comparison of Esther to Christmas but how appropriately you applied those principles!
    I really love Christmas for all those reasons that you mentioned and I believe I will enjoy it more this year!
    Thanks so much!

    • says

      PWS, I have always loved Christmas so much. My grown son asked me a couple of years ago if I thought we would celebrate Christmas when we get to Heaven and I had to stop and think for a minute but it came to me, I think every day in Heaven will feel like Christmas. If you think about it isn’t Christmas about kindness, caring, unselfishness, loving, joy, peace and good will? So just think, all of those feelings and then some will be in Heaven.

  18. Mary says

    I LOVE getting your newsletter. You have such common sense suggestions that are totally doable. THANK YOU very much for sharing. I have shared your site and newsletter with many friends. It is wonderful, and timely.
    All the best, Mary

  19. says

    I am far from religious but we do celebrate christmas more as a family day. My children are far from home but with computers and phones they are close in our hearts.
    I also find that Christmas without children is just another day until the phone starts ringing and the web cams are turned on.
    My husband and I love the carols and the spirit of christmas and we try to live it all the year.
    I find that this site is a great learning place and I hope my lack of faith will not put people off.
    I was brought up in the United Church and my brother is a pastor of another one.
    So I know the rules and the songs and the songs were great lullabyes for my babies when little.

    • says

      Grandma, your lack of faith is not a put off at all. Trust me if anyone says it is I have a nice big delete button I can use to “put them” off real quick. I don’t mean offense (or as you say) to put any one off saying that but I have felt and been the brunt of some very self righteous Christians myself and it makes me so sad that they give others such a bad impression of Christians. Let me just say I’m so glad Christ wasn’t put off by my lack of faith at times because I would be in a big pickle. Thank goodness He loved me in spite of myself. : )

      Aren’t web cams super great. I was separated from my first grandson for awhile and I would have probably pined away for him if it hadn’t been for the web cam.
      PS. I love the Christmas carols too. I start baking my gingerbread men a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving and of course I have to play my carols while I do it. We have a radio station here that starts to play 24 hr. carols the first of Dec. until Christmas and I play it non stop.

  20. says

    Last year my husband and I told our son-in-law and his rather large family that we were “scaling back” on Christmas due to our now being on a pension. I feel so much better as I sent and will continue to send a family gift instead of trying to buy something for everyone. I love Christmas cards and even though the postage is rather high now I can get beautiful cards from thrift shops and of course after Christmas. This year I am making most of my gifts for family and my goal is to pare down my expenses about 30% over last year. I am trying to convince my husband that we don’t need that much for each other at Christmas and to spend some money on a trip during the holidays which would be more meaningful….we’ll see. I think it is so important to back away from shopping during the holiday season and focus on the true meaning of Christmas and spend time being spiritual and centered. I just hope and pray more people are deciding to get off the “bandwagon” and have a more sane and less expensive holiday!

  21. Edith Sonntag says

    I would like to compliment you on the letter—It gave so many ideas that would be worthwhile to follow , but I especially like the way you likened it to the Old Testament Bible story–so very interesting and original. Thanks so much for your letter every time. I look forward to it and the good tips I always find in it.

    • says

      Edith, I would like to let you and everyone else who wrote such nice and encouraging words to me how much I always appreciate when you post a thank you or a kind word. To be honest there are some days I really “stew” over what I am writing. I also get very worn out many days and ready to quit but then I get such thoughtful kind words from most of you that I get the encouragement I need to keep going.

      You guy’s words mean so much to me that because of that I have started calling businesses or people and thanking them for doing such a good job on something for me because you all have taught me how much that can mean to someone so thank you.

  22. barb~ says

    You. da. bomb,Jill! God bless you and Merry Christmas! I pray for your health and well being all the time. This site has been such a blessing to me. The coolest people drop by here, don’t you think?


  23. Karri says

    LOVE, LOVE the Esther and Mordecai analogies! thank you!
    I buy gifts on-line the day after Thanksgiving. I do not go to any stores that day! No way. I have fibromyalgia and I refuse to fight the crowds. That is not worth it. But lots of websites have the black Friday specials on-line. I get a good deal, pay no tax, and the packages arrive in the mail without me driving to 10 places and wasting gasoline. I’ve done it two years in a row and I’m a believer now that this is the way to buy gifts (if you’re to give any). Have a list of names out and scratch them off as you peruse the specials and buy for those people.

    • says

      I didn’t even go out on black Friday before I had CFS. I’m not a great shopper anyway and that I’m afraid would put me over the edge. I do go to 2 places but only because I know there won’t be a mad rush on them but they often have some really good deals and they are real close to where I live. They are Jo Ann fabrics and I have a 24 hr Walgreens. You would be surprised how many things you can get at a fabric shop for all members of they family. My one grandson wants a chef apron and I found one at Jo Ann’s for $2.00 it was even in his favorite color red. Tawra has been wanting some vintage looking dish towels and voila they had them which I got with a 50% off coupon. So it pays to look in unexpected places.

  24. Shirlene Weber says

    I couldn’t agree with you more on All points! Thanks for the scripture and bible lesson that was such a blessing.

  25. Dawn says

    I love to give gifts of the heart at Christmas time and all year long. One of the best is the gift of a memory through food. My mother had gone ‘home’ 11 years ago and Dad still misses not only her but her baking. So I will bake his favorite cookie, cake, pie or fudge from her handwritten receipes. Now Dad will hint at a certain craving he may have near Christmas. I have been so blessed to still have him in not only my life, but my four girls. I am still looking for a receipe for Charlie Chaplin Candy. It may be a local item only from Western New York. Keep up the great work ladies.

  26. Kelly M. Brown says

    What a joy to learn from a Godly woman who is showing Titus 2 love to younger women…I thank you for sharing the wisdom that God gives you. I have just returned from a True Woman conference in Indianapolis (an outreach of the Revive Our Hearts ministry) and you are actively modeling your enjoyment of being a woman who is sold out to Jesus. Thank you for that!

  27. Brenda says

    One year, I bought all of my nieces purses I got very cheap. I then filled them with free stuff and little things I had been collecting all year. They loved them so much that since I fill gift bags for all my family members. I always include essentials like shampoo and fem products. One year I stated that maybe I should do something else and there were pleads not to. These bags are so inexpensive to fill. I shop sales all year and watch rebates and coupons.

  28. Bea says

    Jill, You always make me SO HUNGRY every time you mention those Gingerbread Cookies you make. Please consider taking a picture and sharing the recipe. THANKS.

    • says

      I will be gearing up in a few weeks to start baking and will post some pictures. I feel bad though because I share every recipe I own with everyone but I’m afraid my gingerbread man one I have to keep a family secret. I dream of some day maybe having my own shop and selling candy, ice cream and my gingerbread men so for now I have to keep it a secret.

      You would love it though I think. I got it out of a 150 year old cook book and it is really different from most gingerbread men. I don’t use molasses (I like molasses but some people don’t) but have certain other ingredients I use which is why I think even people who don’t like them usually like mine. They are so much fun. So sorry to tempt you Bea.

  29. says

    Don and I make cd;s for road trips and almost everyone of them has carols on it in some form or other. We play them in July or Dec and the ride seems to be friendlier even in bad weather.
    I don’t do baking for christmas or at all really. Even when the boys were little we were not into sweets so I would make up cookie dough roll it into logs and freeze them. When they wanted cookies I would just cut 4 off of each roll and use the toaster oven. They each got their favourite kind. Less work than making a dozen and then try to figure out what to do with them when they were cold.
    I used to make egg rolls every year but don’t anymore since I just don’t have the energy to stand and deep fry them. But I do still make my little meat pies. A lot of work but 100 lasts for quite a while and I send them to my son since he and the little ones like them.
    I hate to shop. crowds are just too much so when I shop it is in and out as quick as possible. I live in a town of 3000 with few stores so shopping in the city is horrible.
    I had to go to the hospital for blood tests today and I saw the cutest little hand crocheted poncho that will fit my grand daughter. It is just $20 which is almost what just the wool would cost so I think I will go back and pick it up. The money goes to buy equipment the hospital buying so it is a good cause.
    The hospital auxilary gets the wool through whole sale places or donations and the knitters pick what they want to knit with the wool and the hospital store sells it. We have some wonderfully talented crafter’s in town.
    I am going to try and get some wooden toys made up in time for the Christmas toy drive this year. I think I will be able to handle a few things. Haven’t done it for quite a few as my health is the pits which is really no fun when I love to do stuff for the little ones all year not just Christmas.
    Thanks for saying what you did about being welcome.
    It means a lot to me luv and hugs.

  30. Shirely says

    My husband travels all the time for work…the plus side is thousands of “points” at hotels. I have gifted these …nice since most all include breakfast…a dip in the heated indoor pool…etc.

    Other thoughts…I too, appreciate gifts that had the person take some time to think about…a portrait of my daughter when she was 2…handprints, etc.

    I hate when someone wants to compare “cost” in presents…like I didn’t spend enough, or they overspent…etc…

    While my husband and I make a fairly decent living…nobody likes feeling like that you need to spend so much on someone you hardly know, like or will ever see again.

    I love the ideas for this site..

  31. Marianne says

    For decades my large family has drawn names for Christmas exchange. In my husbands family we set an amount to spend. In my family we are all pretty crafty. 😉 So we draw names and make a gift for that one family. All of our homes are full of homemade gifts from one another, many are Christmas decorations to make our homes more festive. We eagerly look forward to our box to arrive in the mail each year.

  32. says

    One of my favorite presents that we are doing for my parents this year is a smile/memory jar. Everytime we think of something that makes us smile about my parents we write it down. Closer to Christmas we will print them individually on pretty strips of paper and put them in the jar (the idea is to have 365). Then every day they can pull one out and have some memory that makes us smile to hopefully make them smile too.

  33. Teresa says

    Thanks for the great tips and encouragement to stick to a budget. Most of all thankyou for the spiritual insights you gave. Keep it coming!

  34. donna says

    I am so glad to find a site that is so helpful and so much like me. Full of ideas, everyone is willing to share holiday ideas. Thank you so much!!!

  35. Maggie says

    I work in an office and support 18 people. For the last 5 years, I have made fudge and cookies as a gift for each one of them. In 2008, half the boxes were left after the party and I gave them to the few people who were left. Last year, I decided to make one platter for the party and give a box of fudge to my 2 bosses as their gift. No one even noticed and I saved a ton of time and money. That will be my contribution to the party again this year. It’s amazing what you can cut out and no one feels left out. Those who wanted a taste, had one, those who did not, well, you get the idea.
    Also, I have one sister that quilts (along with me) and one sister who keeps asking for a quilt. My quilting sister has made a quilt, I will pay to have it quilted and that will be our special gift to our non-quilting sister.
    Jill & Tawra, thanks for all your frugal hints and good advice. I appreciate it very much.

    • says

      You are welcome Maggie. Thank you for your story. I think we worry so much about giving gifts to everyone and their dog (literally sometimes) and if we just look at things a different way or try something different like you did we could save ourselves time, money and a lot of stress. This isn’t for you necessarily but if something is not working we need to take the time to step back and really look at it and see what the problem is and not be afraid to be honest about it then find a way to fix it or change it. Not just cling to it because this is the way it has always been or we are worried about what others will think.

  36. says

    I crochet and I love making my kids and family stuff. This year I am also adopting the old Victorian idea: give them something they want, something they need, something to play, and something to read. It’s helped me from feeling stressed out. As a full time nursing student and living on only my husbands income (of very little), we are stretched!

    I also pared our list down to six kids (our three, and 3 nieces) and my husband. Granted, come Christmas time, I know my other half will be begging to buy something for his mom, dad, and who knows else… so I’ll make sure I’ve got some little stuff laying around for that :) He gets giddy… oh well…

    But, I also make lists throughout the year so I have ideas to pull from. And I also will use the things I’ve made throughout the year and didn’t sell (my online crochet store) as quick gifts for other people. Crochet dishcloths and dishtowels are big hits, too.

  37. Alena says

    I am disabled and have 4 young children. My husband gets laid off from work every year around Thanksgiving. So Christmas time is usually a hard time for us. A few years ago after the car accident my husband & I sat down and decided that we would buy gifts throughout the year for the children so we always had something on hand for birthdays or Christmas. The only thing I buy around Christmas time is candy canes, our traditional yearly family ornament, and our traditional pajamas for Christmas Eve (everyone gets a new set of PJ’s to go to sleep and wait for Santa in!). Stocking stuffers are always socks, small toys like a mini Lego kit or crayons & coloring book, some candy, an orange and an apple. Simple, small and inexpensive things!

    We also decided that we wouldn’t send out Christmas cards but send a Christmas email instead. It saves us money on stamps and cards. FInally, my parents are retired and don’t have a lot of money either. My mom usually makes gifts for the kids. My oldest son is saving money to go to Space Camp next year so last year my mom made him a piggy bank in the shape of a rocket ship. My oldest daughter loves to sing so she got some old sheet music – my mom copied it onto thick paper, laminated it and made a cover for it. Now my daughter can make notes on the music with a dry erase marker if she needs to.

    And my mom & I like giving each other gifts so a couple years ago we started exchanging Christmas stockings and the rule is that if it doesn’t fit in the stocking, we can’t gift it. We normally both end up with fuzzy socks (both our houses have hardwood floors and wood stove heat so the floor is cold in the winter!), some yummy smelling soap or bath salts which we handmake, some chocolate – a necessity! – and the rest is a surprise. Sometimes it’s a gift card or knitted dish cloths or handmade oven mitts… it just depends on what we think the other person can use.

    And one more idea – I know I’m rambling. lol Last year I made my family new Christmas stockings. Christmas patterned fabric is on sale a lot in December and you can often find good fabric pieces at thrift stores. The older 2 kids and my husband & I all had matching stockings from years ago but then we added 2 more kids and they just had cheap store bought stockings. I wanted us all to match so I made the stockings with the same backing and inside and then each person got a personalized front with their name on it. It took be about an hour per stocking but it was so worth it to see the kids’ faces when they came out Christmas morning expecting to see their old worn out stockings and instead got new custom ones.

    I think anything handmade shows that it was heartfelt and it will be well-received. And like “grandma” said in her post, if you don’t have the talent, get together with someone who does and it can be from both of you.

  38. sherrie says

    i love the things you wrote here. it actually made tears roll down my face. i think JUST like you but never put it into logical words for another person to understand. i just think to myself, “why am i so thoughtful while mostly everyone else is nearly unconscious”? that sounds prideful but it baffles my mind how much i think of ways to bless others and how little they do. maybe they love me for it but they almost never SHOW it in tangible ways. that gets old after a while. but you….expressing it like you have…let me know that I AM NOT ALONE!!! thank you. thank you!! i now feel revived…to not compare myself to the shallowness of others … but to Jesus!! i shall continue using my gifts of giving and encouragement and creativity for all those around me…as unto the Lord…and depend ONLY on HIS approval and love and that will be where i get my strength to keep on being a tool in His hand. “the joy of the Lord is my strength”. thank you so much for your sensitivity to write all this out for someone like me to find it and be revived!!! please dont ever doubt your call to continue…just as Jesus did. we need you!!! the world needs you. ps. wish i cd give u a big hug! (((((((hugs)))))))

    • says

      Sherry what a nice post and thank you. I know just what you mean. There are times when I feel a certain way but can’t put it into logical words (although my children would say I never lack in having the words to say HA!HA!) but then I will hear or read something and think that’s exactly what I have been meaning. Light bulb moment.

      Anyway thank you again and all our really sweet readers who say the nicest things. I always say I think you guys encourage me as much or more many times then what I do you so I do appreciate you all too. I sometimes wonder if that isn’t what God meant when He said for us to gather together and encourage each other. We always think it needs to be just in church but I think He meant any where and even if we aren’t gathered together in body we can be in spirit. It’s so cool how it all works together.

  39. Pat says

    I agree with the above sentiments, but didn’t know how to put it to words. I love the site ( and now I’ve figured how to join in the disscussions I love it even more).
    I must tell my own little Christmas story. I have been getting less and less fired up getting the house”done” for Christmas. The past couple of years it has been a little artifical tree in the TV room. I loved the old English village scenes and recieved a screen saver site not to be mentioned as a gift last year. I enjoyed each day as I got to see what was added for that day. Then this past week our friend was helping his sister who lives in another city move, and for the umpteenth time left his dog with us for several days ( lovely old dog who is dieing and we are making comfortable and letting him enjoy his last summer). Some times I felt put upon, but I love the dog, and our friend is a wonderful friend.
    Our friend came home with a gift for me from his sister, it was a 26 piece village set of porcelaine that I had looked at in the store a few years ago. And here it is in full in the box and I don’t think it was ever used. She had bought it at a garage sale and didn’t want to move it ( she had forgotten she even bought it!) but thought I’d like it and I do. So that’s my decorating done for this year, clean off the bookcase top and add the village! To me this will probably be my favorite gift, and it came in September. There are the people, trees, a Christmas tree, and 5 old English style buildings. I just love the whole thing.
    All my family live miles away, and postage was costing more than the gifts I sent. So now I send a check and my Christmas gift is Christmas and New Years dinner for the whole family ( with a little extra for goodies). That helps the family and in a way I share the Christmas Day with them. They always phone after dinner and share their Christmas Day with me.
    The other Christmas Celebrations I enjoy, are a cookie exchange, and a Saturday before Christmas that we meet at one of my friends daughter’s homes and make Artifical Christmas arrangements. Neither costs much for a pensioner, we each take an item to eat ( to each separate event) and visit the whole day or evening ( cookie exchange) and those two days are so enjoyable, I also go with a friend to her Church for the Christmas Story and songs ( my dh and I are different religions and my church is not near here). So I read the Christmas story and the above and really do love Christmas, just not all the decorating. Gifts I give are cookies, fudge, and Christmas floral arrangements ( made in a mug, or bowl or anything else I find usually the item bought at a thrift store or garage sale. One of the nicest was made on the top of a piece of wooden branch, and I just put felt on the bottom so it wouldn’t scratch, other times I’ve used a gardening baskets). Of course each is accompanied with a hug, lots of Seniors never are touched, especially if they live alone.

  40. Becky says

    One year my boys gave me a home made coupon book. They had coupons for doing dishes, for back-rubs (I used all of these), and for hugs and kisses. It was great! It just took some time and for thought.

  41. Rue says

    Stop giving gifts!! It not your birthday or mine that we are celebrating. We buy everybody we know a gift but what do we give the Christ child? Maybe we should give Christmas back to Jesus! something to think about.

    • says

      Once again it is all in the attitude of how we do things. I watch people so often carry things to extremes one way or another and they forget to have balance in their lives. I love Christmas and everything that goes with it the gift giving, the eating, the lights and decorations and most of all that it is Christ’s birthday. I agree that some can get out of control in the gift giving department and other things but at the same time we have to be careful that we don’t go the other direction and become prideful of the fact that we don’t buy gifts or do anything because we want to make sure everyone knows how spiritual we are. I use to wrestle with this idea myself of it being Christ’s birthday and just what are we suppose to do. God showed me the really neat story in Esther how God saved His people through Esther. When the danger was over and they were saved God told them to give gifts to each other and the needy, to have a feast and even to send letters of encouragement to each other in order to celebrate God saving them. That is what I feel He wants us to do at Christmas. To celebrate Christ’s coming with feasting, gift giving, sharing with the needy and sending letters (cards) of encouragement to each other. We have even more to celebrate then what Esther and the people did then. But it shouldn’t stop there. We as Christians need to celebrate all year long with giving to our friends and family, helping those in need and instead of words of tearing down give words of encouragement to each other.

  42. Tracy says

    I love your tips in this article. I am a single Mom so my budget is tight like many other families. One thing I have done is I figured out how much I wanted to spend then I went back and figured out what I could afford. I paired down my list and broke my Christmas spending budget monthly. This has really helped as I can now actually afford to buy gifts year round for everyone on my list. I also place all those gifts in one place.

    One of the best things I did at Christmas time when my son was 3 was given a small paper bank that Toys for Tots sent my Grandma (she donates a lot). My Grandma explained what the bank was for and gave my son a few coins for it. He saved a whole bunch of change and if we saw money on the ground it would go into that bank. I would tell him that God saw what he was doing and wanted to help. Close to Thanksgiving I took my son to the store and he bought toys with that money. He was so happy that he was able to help give to other kids this way. It has now become a yearly tradition and he saves change year round, he is 9 now. Every year he tells me that this tradition to him is what Christmas is about helping others. He also tells me I have to make sure he can do this in time or he won’t open any of his presents under the tree on Christmas morning.

  43. Vicki Korporal says

    As my family keeps growing, and we now have 25 members, it grew harder for me to shop and stay within a decent budget. I never knew what anyone really wanted, and felt it was such a waste of money and time just to buy one more thing that would never be used or wanted. So a couple of years ago, we all decided that on Thanksgiving day every year we would draw names for all the adults, and only buy for that one person, and the small children. We all save money and time, the children are happy, and the adults save money, and have a wonderful meal together. Its been wonderful!!

  44. Marsha says

    I just want to thank you for being bold to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thanks for all the tips too. May God richly bless you all.

  45. lisa says

    Luv this blog and all of the wonderul comments and comraderie. We are all together and living our lives the best we can. I believe our reason for being here is to help each other. Our family serves food to the homeless each month as well as putting together Thanksgiving baskets for local needy families,helping the disabled with fundraisers,and so much more. Welike to see people smile.

    As for gift giving, most of my family members have passed and I will share with my husband and children, my sister’s family and my broother. I give our children a “funny” t-shirt every year or funny pajamas. I have gotten free gift cards from my credit card rewards and various websites. I give a family gift to my sister that includes a food basket and a gift card. My brother gets food as well. We live too far away from any family and my job won’t give me time off during the Season to take off. So we talk on the phone a lot.

  46. Mary Jane says

    Ahh, yes, the dreaded form Christmas family letter that arrives each year from some families. I know that some think it to be a convenient way to inform everyone of all the current events that go on in their family throughout the whole year, but how I loathe those letters. People talking about themselves in the third person, parading all their great successes, and over the top good news….notice that very few people fill in about their struggles, shortfalls and disappointments. As a young mother, it had the effect of making me feel very inadequate. Who could compete with that? Maybe if the letter writers had been more honest about the down times in their lives, the whole thing might have been more palatable. I will admit that one dear lady did send a form letter each year, but instead of listing “The Academy Awards For Family Accomplishments”, her letter often came across as a restful little devotion on the real meaning for Christmas, and encouragement to take in the wonder, without buying up all the hype. Her letter was the exception, and a delight each year. For years I did not send out Christmas cards, as it was one more task that added to expenses and the work load of the season, without accomplishing much in return. If I knew someone well enough, I either called, wrote a letter or sent a gift. Now that I am older and an empty nester, I do find that a well thought out Christmas card meets the criteria to let someone know that I am thinking about them, without the burden of expense that a gift would have. Extended family and good friends get the cards. Canada Post helped this process along when they made shipping fees out of this world. Because I am Christian, I do send only cards that have the Christian theme of Christ’s birth and the hope He brings. Now I buy the cards after Christmas, and thoroughly enjoy giving them. I also love this website and the work that goes into it. Thank you Jill and Tawra for your common sense and philosophy in bringing it to us. I also thank the other readers and responders, regardless of your faith and spiritual beliefs. I have found my people. Whenever I feel a bit lonely, or like the odd one out when it comes to my values and priorities, I come to this site, and it is like having a good visit and a cup of coffee with a bunch of close friends for the day. I am refreshed and encouraged to carry on.

    • says

      Mary Jane you are so sweet to say that. I have always found your comments almost uncanny in the sense of how often your thoughts you post are so much like the same things I think or feel. You have a really good way with words and writing making it not only easy to understand but I love your common sense which is so hard to find any more. Anyway please stop in “for a cup of coffee” (and a cookie) : ) anytime. We have so many special readers that they really remind me of the way it use to be years ago when my mom would have a friend or two over and they would sit and visit over coffee and cookies or cake. I really miss those things so much. It is like you said I think that was how women would get refreshed and encouraged to carry on and I think we need that so bad still but very often can’t find it in our regular lives. Anyway I am so grateful that God has given us a way to connect in spite of they way things are changing and I guess one good thing has come from it and that is I (we) have been able to meet, visit and become friends with others even in different countries and we may not have been able to meet years ago they way we can now. Have a super good day. Jill

  47. Tommie says

    Years ago when I worked, we had a yearly Christmas breakfast for female faculty and staff with a gift exchange that had a limit of ten dollars. I was generally able to get a decent gift by careful shopping of sales during the year.
    Two years in a row the gift I got was a tiny, amateurish Christmas tree ornament made of construction paper. The gifts were cheesy. This lady and hubby both had good jobs, so I think she was just very cheap. I was embarrassed trying to act as though I was happy with my gift. I think that being.broke is not a sin, but signing up for a ten dollar exchange knowing you would bring a gift that cost about five cents is wrong. I would have loved something really cute and homemade. I know this is not the way you advocate to save money during the holidays, but I always think of this experience when I hear of ways to save money during the holidays. Sorry to sound like the Grinch.

    • says

      This is one of the reasons I don’t sign up for or get involved in these gift exchanges. Not only do I not have even $10 to be spending on things like this but I know I will probably be setting myself up for disappointment and frustration. It is like saying to myself “I know that fire is going burn me but I am going to pay money in order to get burnt again.” Why would I don something like that? I know I am now sounding like the Grinch but I am afraid that is the reality more often then not.

      The thing about gift giving is that when we are giving the gifts the way we really should to those we truly love,care about and want to express our love too it doesn’t matter to us whether we get an equally expensive give or even a gift at all because we are doing it with the purest of motives. I may give my daughter an expensive gift she has been wanting. Let’s say things have been tight for them. If she gives me only a nice poem she wrote I would not think anything about it. Why? Because our gift giving involves much caring and a relationship where usually work related gifts and such don’t. That is why I always say one of the number one ways to save is to stop giving gifts to every Tom, Dick and Harry. It is not that I have anything against Tom, Dick or Harry but I am not giving for the right reasons. : )
      Your reaction is very normal and the way most people feel.

  48. natalie says

    I have used your Dining on a Dime book so much over the years – have loved it for so long! And your website. I am always inspired not only by your posts but also by all these comments as well. I am finding myself this year in desperate need to scale down and with three teenagers (in the past we were never over the top, necessarily) the “toys” they want are all on the pricey side. I don’t think we have raised them to be materialistic but I’m afraid they tend to lean that way and I guess I would hate for them to be disappointed come Christmas morning. We don’t have any credit cards so “overspending” isn’t an issue – we pay cash for everything. Anyone have any tips on gift ideas for teens? (13, 17, 19) The only “craft/hobby” I can do is embroider but I’m not sure that is especially helpful.

    I remember one year when our two older boys were little – like maybe 4 & 6 – and we didn’t have a lot of money and bought these little cars we found at the mall that weren’t expensive but they were different and motorized. Along with that all we had was a Gameboy system and a game to go along with it. On Christmas Eve when we celebrated with my side of the family my brother gave our boys those exact cars…which meant all we had were the Gameboy system and a game. I wrapped the “case” separately and with all they got from my parents they were thrilled and I have to say, astonishingly, they never once “noticed” that was all they got. I wish they were that “clueless” today.

    My other challenge is for my mom. She flies up to Idaho to be with us for the holidays (from southern California) and so her space is limited in her suitcase to take home. She is 83 and doesn’t really need anything. I have made her a handful of embroidered things and a scrapbook last year and we do gift cards (and a yearly calendar I order with the kids photos throughout the year) but I am always stumped as to what to get her. Giving her only the calendar feels a little like I am not doing enough (guilt much?). Any suggestions would be wonderful.

    Thankfully, we don’t really exchange gifts with anyone else. There are a few little kids in our extended family that we tend to buy either little books or candy and that’s it. We all get together on Christmas eve (we do a white elephant) to celebrate. Throughout the month I love being able to do at least a few fun things as a family together – like driving around looking at lights, baking, etc. I can only hope that one day my kids will look back on these years with fondness and love and happy memories.

    • says

      Natalie that is good question. : ) I feel your pain. Actually it is harder with teens and I do know what you are saying. I have trouble with my mom too and what to get. Here are a few things that I have found worked for me. I did this with my kids and now do it with my grand kids. First I ask them to make me a list of things under $5 that they want. That is the easiest way to go. You can make it $10 or what ever amount you are spending. I buy one larger or a little more expensive (for me that means about $10-20 depending on the year) or it can be less expensive but have a large presence. For example one year all the kids wanted a body pillow. They were only $8 but since they were so big they thought they were getting a lot.
      Then I buy a bunch of little things for about $1 or less which is easier then you might imagine. I was just at the Dollar Tree and was in the automotive section there. The had all kinds of cool things for my teen boys and since my girls are starting to drive there were things for them there too. Here are a few things.
      ~They had some of the coolest lights of all kinds that clip on, go on key rings etc that 10 – 19 yrs would love.
      ~A whole collection of things for my teen’s cars – they loved the fuzzy dice, special rags to clean their car even the “smelly” things to hang in the car to make them smell good. I can’t begin to list all the things.
      ~Lowe’s has really neat tools for about $2 like special screwdrivers, pliers that could be put in a inexpensive tool bag for them to keep in their car. They have flashlights and small multipurpose tools to carry in their pocket or on a key change.
      ~ I am looking for a key chain with a flashlight/whistle combo for my girls.
      ~ I bought a fold up shovel for the boys this year to keep in their car for emergencies.
      ~All my boys love Raman noodles and cook their own all the time so I found a special bowl to cook them in the microwave so no pan to clean and less mess hopefully.
      ~Go to hardware or auto stores. They have some really fun things for guys and at good prices. Think out of the box. My 20 year old is on a tight budget, a can of de icer to save him scraping his car window this winter is greatly appreciated.
      ~ My middle school grandson loves things like compasses and last year Tawra made him a small “survival” kit that he loved.
      ~ Tools to work on or use with the electronic things they all ready have.
      ~ One grandson loves anything light related so each year after Halloween, Easter etc. I look for strands of different lights for him to use in his room or on his car. He is 17 and loves all the electronic toys but his eyes still light up when he gets new lights.
      ~ My 19 loves drawing so with a coupon I got him an extra special drawing tablet and pencils from Hobby Lobby.
      ~ Girls are pretty easy. Even if they have 10 lip glosses or polishes they love new ones. That goes for body wash, lotion etc.
      ~ My girls love nice smelling things too so last year for fun I made like a gift box of things like room deodorizers, I found scented trash bags for $1 at the Dollar Tree to use in their bedroom trash cans, sachets for their drawers,can of air spray etc. They actually loved it.
      ~I hit the thrift store all year long looking at t shirts for the girls and boys with funny sayings that are special for them. Usually I get them for $2 or less.
      ~ For your mom, with out knowing her financial situation or tastes it is hard to say so will give you examples of what I would enjoy as a mom. I like getting my favorite perfume, lotion, body wash and wool socks becausemy feet get so cold. Even though I get one every year I still love getting a calender or book with my kids and grand kids pictures. To be honest I love getting new gloves, scarves even though I already have some, I love getting new things I wouldn’t buy for myself. Oh and candy. I love Turtles and would never spend money to get me my special candy so the kids get me some for Christmas.
      Most moms appreciate anything their kids get them and if they don’t then I would not worry about it and get what you can afford.

      The main thing is your attitude too. My kids and grand kids know I would get them the world if I could but I can’t so we have fun and laugh and joke about the gifts the way some do white elephant gifts. They know the amount ahead of time that I can spend and adjust their mind set to that. If they don’t or can’t, well a long time ago I made up my mind to give what I could with love and if the person receiving it didn’t like it that was their problem to fix or adjust and not mine. That meant my older kids too. If they hadn’t listened to what I had to teach them for 16 plus years then I would have to let it go and let them learn the hard way. I know that may sound harsh but I made myself sick for to many years worrying that I wasn’t getting someone something they would like and killing myself to do it. I still do my best to get something they will like but if they aren’t happy with it I can’t worry about their reaction or attitude.

      • natalie says

        Thank you so much, Jill, for those great ideas!!! I love the whole dollar store idea for automotive, etc. That’s a great idea. My oldest doesn’t have a car yet (he shares one with his dad) but he is saving to buy one and he would love anything pertaining to a car or using in a car! And Lowe’s is another idea I never would have thought of!

        My mom is well off and you actually gave me some great ideas about socks/slippers and candy – she loves those things plus the yearly calendar. Another one of your readers above mentioned how she put together a “memory/story jar” where they wrote down moments that made them smile when thinking of a parent (grandparent) and I mentioned that idea to my kids tonight at dinner. My mom arrives in a month and I thought our family could sit down a little bit at a time and write out memories of my mom (and stories) that brought happiness to everyone…she loves all the sentimental things too.

        You have given me inspiration, and I really appreciate that. What you guys do with this website and your books are amazing and truly inspiring and always gives me hope when things look dismal. Thanks for your feedback…I was beginning to feel that stressed feeling whenever I thought of the holidays and you have helped ease that! Have a blessed day.

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